Having a background in project management is great when you are faced with the task of planning a new project. You know how to get things done. However, managing a bid and writing a project proposal is fundamentally different from managing a project.
There are two main differences that a bid and project manager must know.
1. a project must deliver
When doing a project you already know what you have to do, by when and how much can it cost. That is called the iron triangle of project management: quality, time and cost. Those are contractual facts that frame the project reality.
Your goal is to stay focused and in scope, spend the available resources and create what is written in the plan in a given timeline. You can sometimes make exchanges between a shorter timeline for more resources or smaller scope for less money to spare, but sometimes not even that. Just do it.
You need to stick to the plan because of dependencies to clients, partners or sub-projects. If your scope creeps or project is delayed you will have to look for more money and human resources to deliver the results. The main point about a project is just to push through and deliver in time, scope and quality. But in the beginning you have all that it takes to be able to accept the challenge.
2. no plan, no resources
When writing a bid or a project plan you basically have no time, no money and no resources available. Your task is to invent how you would spend it if you had it. Dreaming and predicting the future as it might happen if there was a project to do the work.
The work that results from these constraints is usually creative, lean and a collaborative effort. At worst it is slow, complex and you are all alone with an impossible deadline.
To get it planned right you have to get attention from technical, sales, legal and business experts as well as other managers and senior level sponsors. To get comments and approvals you must beg, steal and borrow their precious time – since there is no project allocation.
You need to get their attention in order to succeed, but none of them has any intention of doing the job for you. They are always busy, and if you fail, it’s not their fault.
What are their interests and top priorities at the moment? Follow that lead and solve the big problems in small chunks of work.
COmmunicate more efficiently
Typically the expertise needed in planning and executing a project is scattered around the organization. In a networked project consortia between organizations and sometimes in different locations and countries.
As soon as you get domain experts collaborating smoothly, it is great cross-disciplinary teamwork. And your job as bid manager in planning the project is to pull this all together in a very short deadline. This means a lot of communication.
The more clearly and timely it happens the better you will progress. And if you make it right, the bid will end up being a contract that your project managers have to deliver. I hope it was not messy all the way till the end, right?
It is time to make the final presentation to the customer and prepare for a contract and a kick-off. Then you already know what to do, by when – and how.
How to SUCCEED in a project start
Want to know more and learn everything you need to know about managing bids and projects? Check out the Propellerhat Coaching program for successful bid writing and project management execution.